The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Napa County Re-Entry project occurred with pomp and circumstance on Friday, February 1st and included the Chief of Probation, Chief of Corrections, Members of the Napa County Board of Supervisors, as well as distinguished members of the State and Federal Legislature. This facility establishes Napa County as a national leader in criminal justice reform.
The program will be jointly run by Napa’s Departments of Corrections and Probation to serve non-violent inmates in their final 6-12 months of incarceration rather than early release. Residents will receive counseling and education on a variety of subjects including “life skills” such as balancing a checkbook, creating a budget, applying for a driver’s license, securing housing, etc. The project includes dormitory housing for 72 residents, classrooms, computer labs, a counseling center, administration, a kitchen and dining hall, all arranged around a secure courtyard. Once residents go through an orientation, they will be allowed to leave daily to meet with family, apply for a job, work, attend classes at the adjacent community college, meet with attorney, and re-establish ties to their community. The program allows for former inmates, at the end of their sentences, to re-enter society in a protective environment instead of releasing them unprepared into an unfamiliar world.
Studies show that these type of programs can reduce recidivism to single digits and give probationers their best opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones. This program should pay for itself since it will ultimately reduce inmate populations in a facility that is less costly to operate than a hardened jail. While it cannot serve all inmates, the program is designed to help those with the best chances of improving their circumstances. Jurisdictions across the country will certainly be monitoring this program, because this project is one of the first of many planned nationally, and the unique approach of partnering with probation and the local college is unprecedented.